Skip to main content

Chun C. Lee papers

Identifier: 0022

Collection Overview

The Chun C. Lee papers is a small manuscript collection that primarily conists of records document Chun C. Lee's relationship with Ohio Northern University. Notable items from the collection include an autobiographical manuscript written in 1967, thirty years of correspodence between Lee and ONU, a reflection on the life of former ONU faculty member and Dean of the College of Engineering, T.J. Smull, and a small collection of photographs.


  • Creation: 1926-1986


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Note: In compliance with University Policy 6.1 if the user is affiliated with a media organization, or if the intended outcome for archival work is create a product that wil be featured by the media, then the user should first contact ONU's Communication and Marketing Office to coordinate their archival research/media request.

Conditions Governing Use

Ohio Northern University maintains copyright for institutional records in accordance with U.S. copyright law. Collections may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not help. Users are responsible for determining the appropriate use and reuse of materials.

Biographical Note

Chun C. Lee was born in Yangjiang, Guangdong, China, October 10, 1902 to Lee Kay and Lily Lee. Lee emigrated to the United States with his father in 1912, and remained in the United States when his father returned to China in 1913. For the next decade he lived with family friends and attended school while working odd jobs. Lee then enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley in 1921 and studied mechanical engineering until leaving for Milwaukee, Wisconsin in January of 1924. Shortly after Lee made his way to Cleveland, Ohio where he came across a university catalog for Ohio Northern University (ONU). After contacting ONU he decided to return to school to complete his degree in mechanical engineering, and arrived in Ada, Ohio in August, 1924.

As a student at ONU Lee was active in a number of activities, including pitching for the varsity baseball team, playing on various basketball and football teams, serving as the secretary and president for the campus International Club, and was a member of the YMCA and the American Society for Mechanical Engineers. Lee earned his BS in mechanical engineering in 1927. Soon after graduation, Lee returned to China where he was reunited with his mother and siblings. While in China Lee became a prominent engineer and led several infrastructure projects in Guangzhou (then Canton). In 1932 Lee completed a thesis based on the waterworks plant development work that he led, which earned him a "Mechanical Engineer" degree from ONU.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Lee and his family fled to Hong Kong. The family returned to China post-war, but returned to Hong Kong as refugees during the Chinese Communist Revolution. In 1959 Lee returned to America, this time with his wife, Lillian, and their children. Back in San Francisco, Lee became a store owner and rekindled his relationship with Ohio Northern University. In the following decades Lee received several honors from ONU, including a Centennial Citation in 1971, an honorary Doctorate of Engineering in 1973, and an induction into the ONU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984.

When reflecting on the importance of ONU to his life, Lee stated in his autobiographical manuscript that ONU was the “institution that taught me to withstand hardships, serve humanity, and led me to the betterment of society. From the source of the great Ohio Northern University, I was privileged to direct some of the flow of knowledge and character to my homeland in a distant hemisphere. I am proud to be one of the Sons of ONU—very proud and very grateful.”


.2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Chun C. Lee was an ONU student from 1924-1927 who was born in China and moved to America in 1911. Lee earned his BS in mechanical engineering from ONU in 1927, at which time he returned to China and served as an engineer in the city of Guangzhou (then Canton). Lee returned to America in 1954 as a refugee from the Chinese Communist Revolution. This Chun C. Lee papers primarily consists of an autobiographical manuscript written in 1967 and thirty years of correspondence with Ohio Northern University. Additionally the collection contains photographs and university programs.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of select materials from this collection are available online at Digital Commons@ONU.


As an academic archives that strives to advance historical research and understanding of our shared histories, the ONU Archives is committed to preserving and making accessible original, historic materials. This commitment to preserving materials in an uncensored form means that collections may contain offensive text, images, or recordings.

Processing Information

The Chun C. Lee papers were processed in 2022. The collection came together after a genealogical inquiry from one of Lee's grandchildren (Jason Yeo), led ONU staff to surface a small set of records from and related to Lee in the ONU Archives and the Office of Advancement. Shortly after the inquiry the records from Advancement were transferred to the ONU Archives, and supplemented by materials from the Yeo family, where they were combined into the Chun C. Lee papers.

Chun C. Lee papers, 1926-1986
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Ohio Northern University Archives Repository

Heterick Memorial Library
525 South Main Street
Ada Ohio 45810 United States